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Ratings: McTominay led United into the fourth round of the FA Cup; De Gea and Varane in good form in the victory – Rashford poor but not the only one

Manchester United beat Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa 1-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford, earning a fourth round place in which they will face Middlesbrough at Old Trafford next month. Scott McTominay opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match after Fred played the ball into the box. It was a rather uninspiring victory for United, keeping a clean sheet even though Villa scored twice with one goal disallowed for a foul in the run up to the goal, the other being an offside goal. Gerrard will be annoyed with the result, but for him it was deserved. Villa will face United again in five days time.

United did not start all that brightly against Villa with Steven Gerrard’s side quickly advancing and trying to cause damage against a side with one of the weakest defences in the Premier League. United seem to panic when their opposition is attacking – and that tends to cause mistakes to happen with United conceding goals that should not be conceded. However, that said, United averted any danger – although no through good defending, it was probably luck. In the eighth minute of the match, Fred played the ball into the box from a distance, met Scott McTominay who headed straight into the back of the net to put United ahead.

It was Villa who had most of the possession in the first half of the match but it was United who were doing so much more with the ball. They had more shots and just looked better in Villa’s final third – which was a great start. Gerrard won’t be at fault though as he’s that way inclined. He would probably get a mate to take the blame. United had a fair few chances in the second half, which they should have really taken as it could be something to look back on later in the match, if it did not go their way. The winner will face Middlesbrough at home in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup this season and Gerrard will want that match.

Villa did have a chance on goal but the ball his the inside of the crossbar, which was a shock for United. It was not meant to be for Villa though. It seemed that Diogo Dalot’s night was at an end in the first half too after he received a cut to the ankle, but after a brief time on the sidelines, he was able to continue – to the annoyance of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was going to replace the Portuguese right-back. United were still in the lead at the break, which would have given them something to build on for the second half, but it would also restore confidence, especially in the dressing room during the break.

There were no changes at the start of the second half for either team. Villa seemed more determined to get something from this match from the start of the half, and just five minutes into the half, Danny Ings looked to have scored the equaliser. It was a free-kick taken by John McGinn with the ball staying in the air for some time. Edinson Cavani was running into the box, keeping up with Ezri Konsa and it seemed he was fouled in the box. Konsa then played the ball into the middle, just missing Ollie Watkins and eventually coming off Ings’ thigh and into the back of the net. VAR was going to decide whether it was a goal or not.

The referee had to look at the goal, eventually deciding that it was not a goal because of the foul on Cavani. No card was issued and Villa seemed lucky that nothing further happened. Tempers were flaring after that with Villa more determined to get something from the match and it not (yet) working for them. Fred was United’s first player to be booked in the 65th minute of the match, with Jacob Ramsey booked in the 11th minute of the match. United still had not improved and were seemingly inviting Villa on them, which was putting United under a lot of pressure. In the next few minutes, both Luke Shaw and Dalot were both booked.

Rangnick made his first substitution in the 72nd minute of the match with Donny van de Beek replacing Cavani, which is something that Villa would have been happy with. United had a great chance after the substitution with Mason Greenwood doing the hard work and Rashford letting the attack down, seemingly not wanting to score a simple goal. The England forward really needs to start taking his chances and finding some form or he will end up being kept out of the team more often. United desperately need a second goal to win this match or they could be playing extra time if Villa get a late goal and nobody wants that.

A double substitution was made by United with around five minutes of normal time remaining. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Elanga replaced Bruno Fernandes and Rashford as United headed into added time. Villa made another change too. There were six minutes of added time that United needed to weather to get into the fourth round of the FA Cup. It was a largely uninspiring match, but that has been the case of late and it does not seem that United will be changing that any time soon. United dug deep and got the win they wanted, not necessarily the win that they deserved. United face Villa again in five days time, this time at Villa Park.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Resurgent. Faced little opposition in the first half but was there to form a guard on the goal when needed. Got the better of a Cash attempt on goal. Will be happy with the clean sheet, despite the disallowed goals for Villa.

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20 Diogo Dalot

Flair. The Portuguese right-back marauding forward whenever United were on the attack. Got a nasty cut to his ankle and seemed to have ended his evening there, but he returned minutes later. Continued to do his bit throughout the match.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Mistake prone. Granted, he does seem to be semi-decent most of the time but he always has a mistake in him, which is a problem in this defence. He can be a calamity or a hero. He seemed to weather this storm against Villa but resurgence is needed at this club in order to make the waves towards the trophies. He seemed a little calmer in the second half.

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19 Raphael Varane

Assured and stable. Added the grit to this United defence. Lindelof was his third defensive partner in the last three matches. There was some testing times for the Frenchman but overall it was a classy performance for him.

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23 Luke Shaw

Attacking prowess. Showed more aggression than he did against Wolves and seemed to get further forward, supporting the United attack. Booked in the second half with United seeing three players booked in five second half minutes.

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17 Fred

Indifferent. Seemed to be at the top of his game one minute, playing the ball into the box and meeting McTominay's head, which scored the opening goal. The next minute he was losing the ball and playing bad passes. He was booked for a challenge in the second half.

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39 Scott McTominay

Determined. The Scotland international was once again determined to guide United to a win, scoring a header in the eighth minute of the match

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Incisive and creative. Seemed to have improved in the areas that he's most dangerous. Still did not get a goal or an assist but it is a good start, considering the change of formation and tactics. This could be the start of something good for the Portuguese magnifico. Replaced by Lingard in the 85th minute.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Uninspiring. The poor form continued for Rashford. He looked unable to do the simplest of things some of the time. He missed a good chance to either get a goal, or contest for one by ball watching rather than looking to make the difference. Seemed like he was not enjoying football anymore. Needs to put in a shift in order to change minds as his efforts for the club are in the past and changes are needed by the club. Replaced by Elanga in the 86th minute, which should have happened at least 20 minutes sooner.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Inconsistency. It is a shame to see Greenwood in this form. He has excelled agains Villa in the not too distant past but seemed unable to get into this match. Hopefully he can shake that poor form.

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21 Edinson Cavani

A handful. The Uruguayan was a thorn in Villa's side in this match. He was regularly testing the defence and played a part in Villa's equaliser, being fouled on the edge of United's area which resulted in the goal being disallowed. He seemed to play better without Ronaldo in the team. Cavani was replaced by Van de Beek in the 72nd minute of the match.

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Substitutes

34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Cavani 72'. Needs to find himself. Got some rare minutes on the pitch but seemed devoid of confidence and ability to change the game.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Fernandes 85'. Fresh legs. Did little but is now cup-tied should he depart the club this month.

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36 Anthony Elanga

Replaced Rashford 86'. A youthful look to the future. Should have had more time on the pitch. His pace can cause problems for most teams. Should be ahead of Rashford now.

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Goals: Scott McTominay 8′

Assists: Fred 8′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Fernandes (Lingard 85′), Rashford (Elanga 86′); Greenwood, Cavani (Van de Beek 72′)

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Telles, Wan-Bissaka; Mata, Matic; Amad

Bookings: Fred 65′, Luke Shaw 68′, Diogo Dalot 70′; Jacob Ramsey 11′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Greenwood and Cavani lead United’s attack against Villa; Ronaldo missing; Amad and Elanga on the bench

Manchester United welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup this evening. It will be the first time that Steven Gerrard will manage a team at the Theatre of Dreams and the first time that United will have played in a week, following their dreadful defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers almost a week ago. United need to kick back and earn their place in the fourth round of the competition, or face yet more discontent from the supporters. It is time to stand up and be counted, not sit there sulking and expect sympathy because you have to go home from work in the dark and train more.

United have a big problem at the club. There seems to be a distinct lack of ambition at the club which can only come from the top. High wages are paid to players who have no belief in the club nor care about the club. That is what it looks like. There is so much money in this game now that mediocre players are earning scandalous sums of money to kick a ball around a football pitch, seemingly thinking that they will be praised like gods off the pitch, which is never going to be the case. In the not too distant future, if could be a case of what these players had and lost down to their own selfishness. It is time to find a backbone and do something.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

Fernandes, Rashford;

Greenwood, Cavani

Substitutes:

Heaton; Telles, Wan-Bissaka; Mata, Lingard, Matic, Van de Beek; Amad, Elanga

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett;

McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey;

Buendia;

Ings, Watkins

Substitutes:

Steer, Sinisalo, Sanson, El Ghazi, Hause, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka, Archer, Iroegbunam

United and Villa have played a total of 12 matches in the history of the FA Cup. United have won ten matches with Villa winning the remaining three matches. United have scored a total of 29 goals. Villa have scored 14 goals. United have kept a total of three clean sheets with Villa keeping a total none in these matches. This will be a big match for United – coming off the back of a defeat to Wolves in their last Premier League match, also with the fact that Villa have already beaten them 1-0 in the league this season – which was played at Old Trafford on the 25 September 2021. Rangnick will need to get this team performing – which will be tough.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although his loan spell has now ended with him heading to Napoli for the rest of the season. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane as assistant manager.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-3-1-2] Ronaldo, Cavani and Fernandes to lead the attack; creativity needs to come and perhaps Sancho, McTominay and Van de Beek can provide that?

Manchester United welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup on Monday evening. It will be the first time that Steven Gerrard will manage a team at the Theatre of Dreams and the first time that United will have played in a week, following their dreadful defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers almost a week ago. United need to kick back and earn their place in the fourth round of the competition, or face yet more discontent from the supporters. It is time to stand up and be counted, not sit there sulking and expect sympathy because you have to go home from work in the dark and train more.

United have a big problem at the club. There seems to be a distinct lack of ambition at the club which can only come from the top. High wages are paid to players who have no belief in the club nor care about the club. That is what it looks like. There is so much money in this game now that mediocre players are earning scandalous sums of money to kick a ball around a football pitch, seemingly thinking that they will be praised like gods off the pitch, which is never going to be the case. In the not too distant future, if could be a case of what these players had and lost down to their own selfishness. It is time to find a backbone and do something.

Previous meetings with Aston Villa and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villa have played a total of 12 matches in the history of the FA Cup. United have won ten matches with Villa winning the remaining three matches. United have scored a total of 29 goals. Villa have scored 14 goals. United have kept a total of three clean sheets with Villa keeping a total none in these matches. This will be a big match for United – coming off the back of a defeat to Wolves in their last Premier League match, also with the fact that Villa have already beaten them 1-0 in the league this season – which was played at Old Trafford on the 25 September 2021. Rangnick will need to get this team performing – which will be tough.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although his loan spell has now ended with him heading to Napoli for the rest of the season. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane as assistant manager.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Aston Villa in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Monday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea is the in form goalkeeper at United this season. Grated, Dean Henderson may need more matches, he will have to impress the manager in training. As he’s has just a few appearances the season, it seems more likely to stick with De Gea as there is enough time between matches to rest. If United did not have De Gea this season, they would be in a much worse position than they are now – and that would be even more devastating for the supporters of the club. The Spanish goalkeeper has made many superb saves to deny the opposition from getting more against United. If the defence were as good as him, it would be fine.

De Gea will be determined for United to bounce back from that defeat to Wolves and that is something that United will need to do to appease the manager and the supporters. These players have let United down time and time again and if there are problems in the dressing room, which Harry Maguire seems to suggest is not the case, they need to be ironed out. United cannot continue limping from match to match with supporters expecting them to turn a corner, only to end up with them being on the wrong road and nowhere near turning a corner. This has continued for nine seasons post-Sir Alex Ferguson – it cannot continue any longer.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw

United’s defence needs to find stability. I wrote something similar ahead of every match and it never really seems to change. United have some players in this group that should be so much better than they have been and some world class players, or at least players who should be regarded as such – but seem to be struggling. Against Villa, Diogo Dalot should occupy the right-back position as he is in a much better position that Aaron Wan-Bissaka this season and form seems to have hit him and missed the latter. Dalot is much better in an attacking sense, which is the attacking stability United need to grasp from the back.

At left-back, Luke Shaw should start this match being that he is suspended for the clash with Villa in the Premier League just five days later. If Shaw can find the form he had shown last season, it will go a long way in setting United up to achieve something – but the season so far has established that the Premier League title will not be something that United challenges for – unless there is a miracle. Raphael Varane should keep his place in the centre of defence, coming back from an injury he will need all the minutes he can get to get back into the swing of things. With Harry Maguire a doubt, Phil Jones should start alongside the Frenchman.

Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek

United’s midfield should be much better than it is. There is a big lack of creativity which results in the forward struggling to create things themselves, which adds to the frustration. The 4-2-2-2 formation is not something that is working for United now, even though it is a 4-4-2 formation with wingers. There is something that Rangnick wants these players to present on the pitch which is a struggle – maybe in time with a few new additions, things will change. A three-man midfield could establish some creativity but will lose some width which is not the best but something needs to give for United.

Jadon Sancho could play a wide midfield role, getting forward when United are on the attack and helping in the midfield when they are on the receiving end. It could work for United. Scott McTominay could offer a kind of defensive role, which he has done under Jose Mourinho, not that it is a solution but it is a way to deliver his energy and determination which has shown through recently. He will be suspended like Shaw in this fixture in the Premier League just five days later, so will get a rest until the 22 January. Donny van de Beek could start in the other midfield place, offering some offensive play and a chance to get his foot in the door.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes is wasted in the 4-2-2-2 formation as largely he is in a wide position, which does not work to his strengths. In this formation, he would operate just behind the forwards, with will also result in a distinct lack of width but something that could work for United. If all goes well, the fullbacks should provide width going forward with the three-man midfield covering for them if they get caught tracking back to their positions from an attacking play. This is how a team should be working, in my opinion anyway. Fernandes is the player that can find the creativity coming from the midfield towards the attacking players.

This season, the Portuguese magnifico, who is of the interest of Barcelona once again, according to the media, which probably means that is a lie, again, has five goals and nine assists in all competitions so far this season and only Cristiano Ronaldo is ahead of him based on goals scored (14). He has been out of form recently and has been left dejected when things do not go his way, but who can blame him when he has suffered just like we have. There are so many fan cammers who think that just like Ronaldo, Fernandes is a problem for United. If the pair of them left the club in the not too distant future, the same people would be moaning about that.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani, Cristiano Ronaldo

There have been suggestions that both Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani should not be playing on the same team together. But I think that is pretty lame to suggest. When it starts to work, they will be undroppable. Granted, more time needs to ge given to the likes of Mason Greenwood, who is just as good up front, but is well out of form at this time. Ronaldo has 14 goals and three assists so far this season and despite showing himself as a frustrated figure, he has been labelled by some as the problem at the club. The only thing he is guilty of is seeing how far United have fallen and wanting to raise the game of the team.

Cavani has been injured for most of the season so far and has made his return in the last few matches. He has two goals to his name so far and this seems to be his final season at the club, so he will be seeking to raise his form and get the goals and assists coming. Last season, he was a great striker and got himself 17 goals and six assists in all competitions, so match that will be a target, beating that would be so much better. If the duo ca work well together, which we know they can United will be in good hands. The creativity is the main problem at the club this season and if United and Rangnick can overcome that, there will be something to achieve.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Jesse Lingard, Fred; Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Elanga

Nine substitutes can be named on the bench in the FA Cup this season, much like the Premier League but a total of five can be used throughout the match, which will help Rangnick, providing he can fine at least 16 players in his squad who are going to put in a performance. I would expect Dean Henderson to be on the bench in this match with De Gea the player in form. Rangnick will need to sweat on his defence though as there is a chance that Harry Maguire will miss this match too. In the event that he does, Phil Jones could start and the likes of Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be on the bench.

In midfield, Jesse Lingard and Fred could add something to the squad, should they be needed. Nemanja Matic has played in the last two matches and should be rested as he will be needed in the Premier League match against Villa as McTominay will be suspended from that match after receiving five yellow cards within the first 19 matches of the season. In attack, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga could all be on the bench to provide something at some point in the match should the likes of Ronaldo, Cavani and Sancho all fall short in offering United something – but the creativity will need to be at a high level for this to happen.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Manchester United need to stand up and be counted in order to beat Aston Villa – players moaning never gets results, just more bad feeling

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Emirates FA Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Monday 10 January 2022, KO 19:55 GMT

Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett

Fourth Official: Andrew Madley

VAR: Darren England Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard

Manchester United welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup on Monday evening. It will be the first time that Steven Gerrard will manage a team at the Theatre of Dreams and the first time that United will have played in a week, following their dreadful defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers almost a week ago. United need to kick back and earn their place in the fourth round of the competition, or face yet more discontent from the supporters. It is time to stand up and be counted, not sit there sulking and expect sympathy because you have to go home from work in the dark and train more.

United have a big problem at the club. There seems to be a distinct lack of ambition at the club which can only come from the top. High wages are paid to players who have no belief in the club nor care about the club. That is what it looks like. There is so much money in this game now that mediocre players are earning scandalous sums of money to kick a ball around a football pitch, seemingly thinking that they will be praised like gods off the pitch, which is never going to be the case. In the not too distant future, if could be a case of what these players had and lost down to their own selfishness. It is time to find a backbone and do something.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWDWDW

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 L, Burnley 3-1 W, Newcastle United 1-1 D, Norwich City 1-0 W, Young Boys 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 1-0 W

Goals: 14 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 5 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Own Goal, Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 7 – Paul Pogba, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic 1 – Fred, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Raphael Varane

Aston Villa – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LLWLWL

Brentford 2-1 L, Chelsea 3-1 L, Norwich City 2-0 W, Liverpool 1-0 L, Leicester City 2-1 W, Manchester City 2-1 L

Goals: 5 – Ollie Watkins, 4 – Cameron Archer, Danny Ings, 3 – Anwar El Ghazi, John McGinn, 2 – Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, Jacob Ramsey, 1 – Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendía, Matthew Cash, Frédéric Guilbert, Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett

Assists: 3 – Emiliano Buendía, Anwar El Ghazi, Douglas Luiz, 2 – Leon Bailey, Danny Ings, John McGinn, Ashley Young, 1 – Matthew Cash, Carney Chukwuemeka, Frédéric Guilbert, Tyrone Mings, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Matt Targett, Ollie Watkins

Previous meetings with Aston Villa and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villa have played a total of 12 matches in the history of the FA Cup. United have won ten matches with Villa winning the remaining three matches. United have scored a total of 29 goals. Villa have scored 14 goals. United have kept a total of three clean sheets with Villa keeping a total none in these matches. This will be a big match for United – coming off the back of a defeat to Wolves in their last Premier League match, also with the fact that Villa have already beaten them 1-0 in the league this season – which was played at Old Trafford on the 25 September 2021. Rangnick will need to get this team performing – which will be tough.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although his loan spell has now ended with him heading to Napoli for the rest of the season. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane as assistant manager.

Team News: Bailly and Pogba missing for United. Maguire still a doubt but Lindelof could return. Traore, Trezeguet both missing for Villa because of AFCON whilst Bailey and Nakamba missing due to injury.

Eric Bailly (AFCON) is missing because of his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. Paul Pogba (Thigh) is the only injured player for this match. Victor Lindelof (Coronavirus) will be eligible to play, providing he is fit enough to be involved. Harry Maguire (Chest/Abdominal) missed the last match due to injury and could well be missing from this one too. Anthony Martial (Knee) has a 75% chance of featuring in this match, but he will need to show something in training to her considered, in my opinion. Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay were booked in their last league match, and will be suspended against Villa in the league but eligible to play this match.

Bertrand Traore (AFCON) and Trézéguet (AFCON) have both been ruled out because of their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. Leon Bailey (Thigh) and Marvelous Nakamba (Knee) have both been ruled out due to injury. Tyrone Mings and John McGinn are both eligible to play in this match against United following a suspension for five yellow cards in the Premier League. Ollie Watkins (Illness) is back in contention to face United with 100% fitness whilst former United player, Ashley Young (Ankle/Foot) is only at 50% fitness and could miss the match against his former club. We shall see what Monday brings in relation to that.

Predicted Starting XI: Cavani and Ronaldo with Fernandes in behind them against Villa? Three-man midfield with Sancho, McTominay and Van de Beek? Jones to keep his place in defence?

Rangnick’s United need to find their feet. Whilst results have been largely positive, at least before the Wolves defeat, the performances have not been the best. The 3-1 victory over Burnley was the best result despite the overall performance being poor. That seems to be the problem with United. Some of the players seem to be blaming others whilst hiding themselves and not standing up and changing anything. The players, board room and owners have been the main constant since Sir Alex Ferguson retired but only the managers have been blamed. The players have continued to be praised mostly, which is wrong.

Against Villa, United will need to come back from a defeat to Wolves. David De Gea should be starting as his form has been good, despite conceding some goals. Dean Henderson would have conceded goals too as United’s defence has not been capable of dealing with threats for whatever reason. Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw should all start this match. A three-man midfield of Jadon Sancho, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek could worth to add creativity with Bruno Fernandes playing just being Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. This works on paper but could it work on the football pitch?

Match Prediction: United have lacked inspiration this season and the fact they have not looked like a good team is very telling. Some players will need to stand up and be counted, or they will get left behind.

United have not been good enough this season, which is why they will face a massive struggle to break into the top four in the Premier League. But in this match, it is a one off to earn a place in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup, which will give United a good enough chance of winning silverware this season – but only if they are good enough on the day – which remains to be seen. Villa have already beaten them at Old Trafford this season, so they will be confident of doing that again, especially with the signing of Philippe Coutinho, who will improve their attacking play and could be an outlet of a goal or two – if he still has the legs for it in England.

United seem to have lost their spirit, desire, determination and fight, which is a major problem that needs to be resolved. Whilst the result came against Burnley in the 3-1 victory, the performance was questionable and United seemed to struggle in the second half, which is a major problem for United. The players will need to stand up and be counted, or at some stage they will get left behind and will be known as another player that did not fulfil their promise at United, which post-Ferguson is a long list at this time. These footballers need to go back to basics and understand the culture showing themselves as role models not prima donnas.

Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa

Written by John Walker

Manchester United to continue to stick by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite unfortunate results

Manchester United are reportedly behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite an unfortunate run of results in which the club has won just two of their last four Premier League matches, winning three of their last seven matches in all competitions since the 11 September when United beat Newcastle United at Old Trafford, which was also Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the Theatre of Dreams.

United failed to beat Everton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday, a week after being defeated at home by Aston Villa, beating Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League in between the two fixtures. Club football is out of action until the 16 October because of the second international break of the season and Solskjaer will need to find a way to improve United’s results.

There has been a lot of frustration by supporters of the club, largely on social media with supporters in the stadium largely behind the squad and the manager. This frustration will grow if things do not improve, which seems kind of early considering that no team in the Premier League has took charge this season with United two points off the top spot after seven matches and with United in a good position in the Champions League.

The Sun have reported that they understand that the hierarchy of the Old Trafford club are fully behind the manager, which is backed up with Mike Phelan renewing his contract at the club and rumours suggesting that both Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna will do the same.

The thing that people seem to forget is that no manager has been given a good enough chance to change things at the club since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. David Moyes was sacked before the end of his first season, despite being given a six-year contract, Louis van Gaal was sacked after two seasons in charge and Jose Mourinho was sacked halfway through his third season at the club.

Since Solskjaer became the manager, the club has been changed considerably with an actual plan being followed, in terms of youth development, incoming and outgoing transfers and United are in a much stronger position that they were under Moyes, Van Gaal or Mourinho. That will be argued though as agendas tend to change people’s minds, especially when they want to be correct all of the time.

Personally, I back Solskjaer as I don’t think he is doing too badly but there are some things that need to change at the club, moving forward. I am not too sure that tactics are being used in the right way to strengthen United, the manager seems to dither in making changes, unless there is an injury and there are obvious flaws in the squad at this present time.

I don’t think any other manager coming in is going to fix these changes as they will have a different plan in their approach, which could put some players in the squad in a position whereby their place at the club is no longer guaranteed, which for some would be right but not necessarily for others. If the manager is changed now, United will go right back to square one and start again.

This will result in supporters demanding success and if they do not get it, the same will happen again. It seems that there is an immense lack of patience when it comes to Manchester United. Not every team will change things in line with what the supporters want and United have never been any different in this approach.

I believe that Solskjaer has a target that he needs to meet in order to guarantee his job and until that cannot be met, the club will stick by him. Supporters need to understand that demanding a manager to be sacked or a certain player to be signed is not really something that can have any control over. This is real life, not a computer game.

After the International break, United will have some big fixtures and winning them will be important to find out whether the club can compete for the Premier League title or not. They also have a double header in the Champions League, playing Atalanta home and away (20 October and 2 November). United will also face Liverpool (24 October), Tottenham Hotspur (30 October) and Manchester City (6 November).

If United get through performing well, they will be in a stronger position in the Premier League and the Champions League. But there are more tests on the horizon with a trips away to face Villarreal and Chelsea and Arsenal at home before the end of November. This is a make or break period for United and Solskjaer which I believe can be positive for the club, the players and the manager.

Written by John Walker

A European Super League? It’s a no from me…

“A team died in 1958 to play in Europe, and this is our history being thrown away for money, by owners who know nothing about Manchester.”Ian Sterling of Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST)

On Sunday, rumours were rife about a supposed European Super League and there were 12 European football clubs that were willing to break away from the standard structure of European football. Six clubs in the Premier League were involved; Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Three teams from La Liga in Spain; Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid and three teams from Serie A in Italy; AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. There were also suggestions of three more clubs being involved meaning 15 clubs would start up this new league. However, the figure seems to be stuck at 12.

United beat Burnley 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday but immediately this win was taken away because of this Super League. Former United defender and captain Gary Neville was not please on Sky Sports, showing his displeasure live during the half time break of the match involving his former club. Talk then spread at full time with another former captain and midfielder, Roy Keane airing his displeasure in the breakaway. Former City defender Micah Richards also spoke his mind about this money grab in football – as that is what it really is. The whole suggestion of it is disgusting. It rips the heart and soul out of the game.

The Glazer’s have never really been a great fit at United. They took over the club by leveraging a debt against the club and have continued to take money away from the club in dividends and share sales, giving nothing back from their own pocket. United are still in a substantial debt and this Super League that seems to be propped by by JP Morgan, will put them in more debt, seemingly selling the souls of the club to the greedy so they can take more money off the top, cutting the hard-working supporters out of the game. This is really the ugly side of football. A side that should be kicked out of the game.

Earning money is necessary in life but greedy football club owners are not needed at all.

The funny thing yesterday is that Sky seem to have found a bad taste in the plans for the Super League, climbing up their own Ivory Tower and calling the six Premier League clubs out. I mean, it is not as if Sky have profited massively from this game and they did not set to to do just that from the inception of the Premier League in its inaugural 1992/93 season! Granted, this is a different kind of greed and it will spoil the game for millions of supporters all over the world. The greed of the Glazer’s and their stooge, Ed Woodward has been seen for what it is now and it has played out live during a football match.

Manchester United supporters have a bond with the club. They have supported it for many years, sometimes most of their lives. They have learned the history of the club, the traditions, the success, the failure and the tragedy. This is the embodiment of a supporter of this club. The majority know the trajectory of the club through the years. The blood, sweat and tears put into the club. The survival of bankruptcy and the survival of the club after the Munich Air Disaster which saw eight players die on their way back home from a European Cup match in Belgrade. The history of the club has been upturned and shaken out just to earn more money.

United literally lost the majority of a team to play in a European competition, which later became the UEFA Champions League. For ten years, United fought back from the aches of Munich to lift that blessed trophy in the honour of those that died a decade before. Sir Matt Busby steered United from death to glory to the pinnacle of Europe. In the years following Busby, United stuttered, were relegated and then fought back to reach the top-flight of English football once more. The years later, the success of Sir Alex Ferguson in his near 27-years at the help of the club brought that fighting spirit back once again.

The Glazers are greedy, money-motivated owners that don’t deserve Manchester United.

When Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United in 2005, a loan was taken out and leveraged against the football club. The Glazer family are clear of debt and for 16 years now, United have been stuck with a massive debt which is no closer to being paid off. Having a debt lowers taxes and that is a must for money-men like the Glazers. The history of this football club is just something they can market and profit from – they don’t care about the blood, sweat and the tears of the players, the supporters and the manager’s throughout the history of the club. They care about the strength of the love for the club, which is now dying in many places.

United have won many trophies during the Glazer’s ownership but that was down to one man; Sir Alex Ferguson. United have won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup in Ferguson’s time under the Glazers. Post-Ferguson, United have won one FA Community Shield, one League Cup and one UEFA Europa League. The success was not because of the Glazer’s – it was because of the merit of the manager (at the time), the players and the backroom staff. The Glazer’s don’t care about winning things, as has been seen post-Ferguson.

You see, the Glazers and Woodward celebrate impressions on social media, sponsorship deals and other commercial dealings which bring money to the club. More recently, the Glazers have ben celebrating the fact that United’s shares are at a high rate so they can sell some lower category shares to line their pockets some more – as if they have not taken enough already. The formation of this European Super League will create endless revenue streams for the Glazer’s, which is the success that seem to value. Cold hard cash. It will see the club turn its back on its traditions, history and more importantly, the future.

When history and tradition is eradicated from Manchester United, what is left?

Manchester United have a rich history and tradition. The club has always strived to create young players who rise into their first team and drive the team towards success. Granted, that does not always happen but there is a rich picking of youth coming through the ranks throughout the history of the club, winning trophies. Then there are special periods where players either succeeded or were stopped in their tracks by tragedy. The Busby Babes of 1958 were the ones that were stopped by tragedy but the Class of 1992 were the ones that went all the way to becoming the pinnacle of European football once again. On Sir Matt Busby’s birthday too.

United have a record which lasts more than 80 years having included at least one youth player that came through the academy in every league match. If United are no longer allowed to participate in the Premier League, or any other league in the land, that tradition stops right there – and there is a feeling that this tradition would continue for many years to come. United’s academy has some talented players in the ranks but what could happen with them. Surely many of them want to play in the Premier League, the Champions League, aiming to lift the famous trophies one day. What about their dreams? Let them achieve at another club?

You see, the Glazers have profited from the traditions and history of the club and they will presumably continue to do that in this Super League, but they will have ended those traditions and become a smudge in the very history of the club. Money is the route to all evils and that seems to be the very thing the Glazer’s want – money. These American owners don’t see to understand why leagues here have relegation, as they don’t in America. They don’t seen to understand the word competition. To do this would be a sad end to a once great football club. The Glazer’s will be the death of the club and they just don’t care about that.

What is being done to stop this greedy mess from ruining football for the United faithful and others?

It has been reported that FIFA and UEFA are against the formation of a European Super League. There are sanctions that can be brought against the clubs involved, but as sooner as that is said, the clubs can appear these sanctions in court – so there is no way to tell if the sanctions will be upheld or whether the breakaway clubs will win. UEFA has also suggested that clubs would be kicked out of UEFA led competitions; the Champions League, Europa League and the Super Cup. Players of the breakaway clubs could also be banned from playing for their countries in the UEFA European Championships and the FIFA World Cup.

There is a lot to lose for these clubs, all for a glorified friendly competition where a trophy with no history will be presented, plus bags of cash, which is the real prize the clubs are interested in. If these clubs are willing to bring an end to players striving to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, League Cup and qualify for European competition, they will be taking away hopes and dreams of the younger players too. The youth leagues will be affected. I very much doubt that United will be able to participate in the U18 Premier League, the FA Youth Cup, the Premier League 2 and the Papa John’s Trophy. What then? Abolish the youth teams and get rid of identity?

United are a club that has these traditions in the DNA. They largely predicted players from the clubs academy, bringing them to first team standard. The Busby Babes, Fergie’s Fledglings and so on. Then there are the league titles, of which United have 20; 13 Premier League titles and seven First Division titles. This success will mean nothing if the Super League is allowed to start. Money is not really what supporters want to see clubs winning as miscreant owners don’t use that money within the club, they use it one themselves. As Sir Matt Busby one said; “Football is nothing without fans.”.

The Premier League is holding a meeting on Tuesday with the 14 Premier League teams not involved in the Super League. This could result in teams involved in the Super League being suspended from the league, which is the worst case scenario. It is something that needs to be carefully considered though as the league will be severely weakened with these six teams being removed permanently. What a mess this has created.

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Greenwood on the scoresheet as Leicester knock United out of the Emirates FA Cup this season; questions to be answered?

Manchester United were beaten 3-1 by Leicester City in the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup ending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hope of lifting the FA Cup this season. Kelechi Iheanacho scored a brace in the match, opening the scoring and scoring the third goal of the game. Mason Greenwood equalised for United in the 38th minute of the match, giving United a chance of getting something from the match. Youri Tielemans put Leicester back in the lead and it was something that United could not cope with. They now have two weeks with no club football to get over this and the fatigue of the past few weeks with United playing two matches a week the majority of the time. The agendas will be out during that time but the snooze button will be pressed.

United started the match positively after their Italian adventure on Thursday evening which saw them reach the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League. However, Leicester soon got into the game with Jamie Vardy seeking to find an early goal, darting in behind Harry Maguire, looking for Kelechi Iheanacho in the middle but Alex Telles got inn there to clear the danger. The flag was then raised for offside. Leicester then started to gain some traction in the match with United making many sloppy mistakes. Fred was passing poorly and generally playing badly along with a few of his teammates. Leicester opened the scoring in the 24th minute with Iheanacho beating Dean Henderson after Maguire fed Fred the ball and he played it back into the box

United started to go forward to get an equaliser, playing a better brand of football with Mason Greenwood seeing Kasper Schmeichel made a save to deny him, palming the ball away. Minutes later, Maguire was booked for a challenge, which seemed a bit of a tough card, but not my decision to call. Leicester then tried to get forward again with Marc Albrighton playing the ball to the edge of the box which was eventually blocked. United got their equaliser, though Greenwood in the 38th minute of the match after Pogba beat his man, played the ball into Donny van de Beek, who stepped over the ball with Greenwood beating Schmeichel to put United level in the match. It was a good goal for the forward, his first for the club since January.

There was a few chances towards the end of the half and two minutes of added time were played. At the start of the second half, there were no changes made by either manager with the winner of this match facing Southampton in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, which will be played on either Saturday 17 April or Sunday 18 April 2021. United conceded a second goal to Leicester in the 52nd minute of the match with Youri Tielemans beating Henderson with the United goalkeeper unable to get a glove on the ball. Iheanacho got the assist for Leicester’s goal, which meant United would need to do a lot more to get level again, then seek the winner in this match. Solskjaer will not be all that impressed in what he has seen from his players.

United seemed determined to get back in the game, getting forward but not finding many chances. United won a corner, which was taken by Alex Telles, and came to nothing with Solskjaer readying four substitutions. They were made in the 64th minute with Luke Shaw replacing Telles, Scott McTominay replacing Pogba, Bruno Fernandes replacing Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani replacing Van de Beek. Albrighton became the first Leicester player to be booked in the 69th minute of the match for time wasting. Three minutes later, McTominay was booked for a challenge on Ayoze Perez, which seemed a harsh booking for the United player. United would need to dig deep and get something from this match, otherwise their FA Cup pursuit would be over.

Leicester scored a third goal which Iheanacho headed in, beating Henderson at the far post from Albrighton’s free-kick, which was misjudged by McTominay. It was such a poor goal for United to give away, they seem unable to deal with set pieces, which asks many questions of the players on the pitch and the coaches. This United side have been unlocked by Leicester too many times, which leaves the home side on top and cruising to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, giving United a free weekend in April, which might not be all that bad. Solskjaer made his final change in the 84th minute of the match with Amad Diallo replacing Fred, who did not have the best of appearances and will raise many questions about United’s midfield.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Conceded in the 24th minute, which was not his fault. Fred passed the ball back and Iheanacho pounced on it. Played a vocal role in inspiring United to get forward from conceding the goal. Conceded another in the 52nd minute with Tielemans scoring. Beaten a third time with Iheanacho heading at the far post.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

He was busy in his defensive role and got forward a few times, despite no real influence coming from him. It has been a long season and it will only get tougher. United will need a backup player in this position.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The better of the two central defenders. Performed greatly on Thursday in Milan but today was not United's day.

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5 Harry Maguire

Was partly responsible for Leicester's goal in the 24th minute by playing the ball to Fred, who played it back into the box and Iheanacho pounced on it to beat Henderson. Will be annoyed with not keeping a clean sheet today. Vardy got the better of him at one stage but hit his shot off target. Not the greatest match for him or United.

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27 Alex Telles

He got froward a lot of the time he was on the pitch and tried to make an impact but he's not in the same form as Shaw. His determination is a good sign. His last kick was a free-kick, which was overhit and went out for a goal kick. He was replaced by Shaw in the 64th minute of the match.

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31 Nemanja Matic

As experienced as he is, his level of impact in this match was low. I understand why he started but it was not the right match for him. United need a defensive upgrade in the midfield. He was replaced by Fernandes in the 64th minute of the match.

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17 Fred

Did not have the best of starts against Leicester and was culpable in Iheanacho's goal in the 24th minute after Magure played the ball out to him and he played it back.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Equalised for United in the 38th minute of the match after Pogba played the ball into Van de Beek, whose dummy allowed the ball to find Greenwood to level the scoreline before the end of the first half.

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34 Donny van de Beek

His dummy to allow the ball to meet Greenwood was a great showing of his ability. His impact in the match had not been great, but he's hardly played this season, lately due to injury, so he will need to gain momentum. He was replaced by Cavani in the 64th minute of the match.

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6 Paul Pogba

Had some impact in the game and there were some worries that his ankle had been injured again, but he recovered form the challenge. He gave his all on the pitch but United needed to make some changes. He was replaced by McTominay in the 64th minute of the match.

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9 Anthony Martial

He was isolated up top and United's lack of creation left him seeking the scraps to no avail. Perhaps his form will raise after the International break, which could be said for United as a whole.

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Substitutes

23 Luke Shaw

Replaced Telles 64'. United's pressure on the attack was poor after his introduction, so he was not able to get much involvement in the match.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Pogba 64'. Misjudged a head on the far post which saw Iheanacho score his second goal, putting Leicester 3-1 up.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Matic 64'. Came close with a free-kick. Perhaps he should have started but fatigue has been showing.

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21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Van de Beek 64'. Good to see him back with Martial's form questionable. United could not inspire a comeback from 2-1 down though.

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16 Amad Diallo

Replaced Fred 84'. Had a cameo appearances. Not really enough time on the pitch to discuss his impact.

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Goals: Kelechi Iheanacho 24′, 78′, Youri Tielemans 52′; Mason Greenwood 38′

Assists: Kelechi Iheanacho 52′, Marc Albrighton 78′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 64′); Matic (Fernandes 64′), Fred (Diallo 84′); Greenwood, Van de Beek (Cavani 64′), Pogba (McTominay 64′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Williams, Tuanzebe; James

Bookings: Marc Albrighton 69′, Jonny Evans 76′; Harry Maguire 30′, Scott McTominay 72′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial, Pogba and Van de Beek start against Leicester in the FA Cup; Fernandes and Cavani on the bench

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium this afternoon in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles;

Matic, Fred;

Greenwood, Van de Beek, Pogba;

Martial

Substitutes:

De Gea; Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Fernandes, Diallo, James, McTominay; Cavani

Leicester City:

Schmeichel;

Fofana, Evans, Soyuncu;

Castagne, Tielemans, Ndidi, Albrighton;

Perez;

Iheanacho, Vardy

Substitutes:

Ward; Amartey, Fuchs, Thomas, Daley-Campbell; Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Leshabella;

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Greenwood, Diallo, Fernandes and James to lead the attack against Leicester? Pogba, Cavani, Martial and Rashford all on the bench?

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

How United have faired against Leicester City in the Emirates FA Cup.

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Emirates FA Cup at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Having started the last five matches in all competitions, there is no reason why he should not keep his place against Leicester. Dean Henderson has kept four clean sheets in those five matches with United beating Manchester City, West Ham United and AC Milan, drawing the other two matches; AC Milan and Crystal Palace – conceding his only goal in the five matches against Milan in the first leg at Old Trafford. David De Gea may not be fully match fit for this match, having sat out the matches due to the birth of his daughter some weeks ago. United should stick with the 24-year-old, who has done some great things for United and that clean sheet on Thursday night in Milan is a great feat for him.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence has done well recently, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches. Eric Bailly is a doubt for this match so Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will probably partner each other in the centre of defence once again with Solskjaer having Axel Tuanzebe to factor into the squad, if he needs to. In the fullback places, for me, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should keep their places. Shaw is having a great season at United and it is great to see, following his injury hit start to his career at the club. It is imperative that he keeps his form, which is consistent to United’s results at this time.

Midfield: Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay

I would like to see Paul Pogba start for United this weekend but Solskjaer suggested that he might not be ready for 90 minutes of action. That said, Donny van de Beek should be starting as he will have 90 minutes in him based on sparingly starting for United so far in his debut season at the club. Scott McTominay should feature alongside him, which could create an attacking midfield with McTominay needing to be on top of his defensive work. If Pogba could start, or came on in the match, playing in the advanced role that is occupied by Bruno Fernandes would be a wise decision with the Portuguese magnifico clearly suffering from fatigue. United need to keep their best players fit at this stage of the season or it could all fall apart.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James

It may not be ideal to start Amad Diallo in such an important match but I believe that he has it inn him to shine ons this stage. He changed the game after just five minutes on the pitch against Milan at Old Trafford and has not been used since – so his fitness is not an issue. Daniel James should play on the left flank in place of Marcus Rashford, if he is not fit enough to feature for United. He played on Thursday evening, but a mixture of injury and fatigue has led to him being in poor form right now. Bruno Fernandes will probably start, although if Paul Pogba can, perhaps he should be utilised instead, keeping Fernandes fresh for after the international break as you can see he is fatigued and should not be burned out.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood might be the only attacking player with experience of leading the line on Sunday. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani are all doubts for this match, which will lead United with a big task on their hands. Greenwood is a talented player but it has not worked for his this season with just four goals and five assists to his name, which is a big drop from what he achieved last season. If Cavani or Martial is fit, they will probably start ahead of him, or at least be on the bench to add something later in the match if that is what United need. It is not ideal at this time, but it is something that United and Solskjaer will need to get through and persevere.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic; Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Solskjaer will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench against Leicester, utilising five of them in the Emirates FA Cup, using a sixth of the tie goes to extra time. The strength of the bench will bank on whether key players are ready to return from injury. In case they are, they have been added to the bench – but this is the best case scenario. David De Gea will be on the bench again, giving Henderson another chance to shine. In defence, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe will be available. In midfield, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic could be called upon with the injured trio of Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on the bench in the attacking positions, should all of them be fit to take part in this match, which is needed.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Solskjaer’s quest for a trophy could take a hit against Leicester unless United’s fortunes start to change

Leicester City -v- Manchester United

Emirates FA Cup

King Power Stadium, Leicester

Sunday 21 March 2021, KO 17:00 GMT

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Simon Bennett, Harry Lennard

Fourth Official: Darren England

VAR: Stuart Attwell Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

Manchester United: WWDWDD

AC Milan 1-0 W, West Ham United 1-0 W, AC Milan 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Chelsea 0-0 D

Leicester City: WWDLLW

Sheffield United 5-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 W, Burnley 1-1 D, Arsenal 3-1 L, Slavia Praha 2-0 L, Aston Villa 2-1 W

Top Scorers: United have scored 89 goals so far this season in all competitions with Leicester scoring 71. Are Uninted’s big guns going to be scoring at the King Power Stadium again this season?

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, Paul Pogba, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Own Goal, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United are undefeated in their last 14 matches in all competitions; the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United was their last loss 15 matches ago. In their last six matches, United have won three and drawn three, scoring five goals and conceding once, keeping five clean sheets, which shows defensive consistency – something that Solskjaer and his side should be proud of. United earned a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, beating AC Milan 1-0, 2-1 on aggregate setting up a tie with Granada, which is a good draw for United, although they tend to struggle against the teams they should be beating easily. Solskjaer will be seeking a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, beating Leicester at the King Power for the second time this season.

Leicester City Goals: 14 – Jamie Vardy, 13 – Harvey Barnes, 11 – James Maddison, 10 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 7 – Youri Tielemans, 3 – James Justin, Ayoze Pérez, 2 – Dennis Praet, Cengiz Ünder, 1 – Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Timothy Castagne, Hamza Choudhury, Wilfred Ndidi, Luke Thomas

Leicester are not in the best form at this stage of the season, despite challenge United for a second-placed Finnish in the Premier League. In their last six matches, they have won three, draw one and lost twice – scoring 11 goals, conceding eight and keeping one clean sheet, which shows that United, if in form up front, could get at least two goals like they did in their last two visits to the King Power Stadium. Rodgers will be seeking a victory though, earning a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, aiming to win their first trophy since the 2015/16 season when they won the league and lifting the FA Cup for the first time since 1968/69 season. It has been a long time since Leicester won this trophy so they will be the team to beat this weekend.

Team News: Jones and Mata out for United with Morgan, Justin and Barnes missing for Leicester. Both teams are sweating on the fitness of players ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Phil Jones (knee) and Juan Mata (other) have already been ruled out for United, so they will not take part in the FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City. Marcus Rashford (other) has a 75% chance of featuring for United this weekend with Eric Bailly (knock), Anthony Martial (hip) and Edinson Cavani (other) all having a 50% chance of being available. Solskjaer has not suggested that either Martial or Cavani will be out of action this weekend, but has given the indication that they might be. Paul Pogba returned from injury against AC Milan on Thursday, scoring the only goal of the game to put United into the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League. Solskjaer does not think he could start but has left me wondering whether he will.

Wes Morgan (lower back), James Justin (knee) and Harvey Barnes (knee) have all been ruled out for Leicester, so will play no part in the FA Cup quarter final against United. Sidnei Tavares (illness) and Dennis Praet (thigh) seem to have recovered from their ailments, so will be available. However, Ricardo Pereira is a doubt, having a 75% chance of featuring whilst Cengiz Under (thigh) and James Maddison (groin/hip) both have a 25% chance of featuring. It gives Brendan Rodgers’ side some injury problems ahead of the visit of United in what will be seen as an important match for both clubs, who will be seeking to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup this season, vying for a place in the final.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer could have his card hidden up his sleeve this weekend with injured players still having a chance to return to fitness after midweek break.

Solskjaer could play a masterstroke this weekend in the final match before a two-week international break. Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial did not travel to Milan for Thursday’s victory with the Uruguayan pulling up after the second training session on Wednesday and therefore ruled out of the match. There is hope that he could be fit, but just in case, I have set up a team without him and Martial in the starting XI. With Marcus Rashford’s injury problems continuing, he could be a doubt too, leaguing United light in terms of attacking players, unless all three are able to feature. If those that have been called up for international durst could not feature for their countries, two weeks out of action would not be the end of the world, would it. United > Internationals.

Match Prediction: United and Leicester have met twice in the Emirates FA Cup with United winning twice, scoring five goals and conceding two. Can United make it three FA Cup victories in a row against Leicester?

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Leicester City 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW